Online Guitar Lesson - Pentatonics and Passing Tones

Guitar Lesson : Pentatonics and Passing Tones

Monday, July 30, 2007 
By Stephane Brault

Just as every minor pentatonic scale has a relative major pentatonic scale made up of the very same five notes, every minor blues scale has a relative major blues scale comprising the same six notes. And as is the case with the relative minor and major pentatonics, the only difference between a minor blues scale and its relative major blues scale is the theorical orientation of the notes.

Figure 4 shows the E minor blues scale (E G A Bb B D) and its relative major, the G major blues scale (G A Bb B D E). As you can see, each of the six notes of the E minor blues scale takes on a completely different harmonic role when played over a G chord or a G bass note. The b5 degree of the E minor blues scale (Bb) now becomes the b3 of the G major blues scale, falling between the second and third.

Fig.4 - Minor and relative major blues scale

Using figure 4 as a reference, try playing the relative major and minor blues scales in different positions on the neck, then see if you can figure out how to transpose them to a variety of other useful guitar keys, such as A, D or C. Most importantly, try relating and applying them to real licks and riffs.

As far as passing tones are concerned, feel free to use them anywhere you like. Formal scales are guidelines, not rules!

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